There are many who pray with a desire to receive what Elisha received, a double portion of the Spirit. However such double portions are the inheritance of sons. Elisha received a double portion because he served Elijah and pursued him and learned his ways, and then received double the spirit of Elijah.
A son pursues! Why does a son pursue a spiritual father? The heart of a son, and the outcomes of this pursuit, are uniquely illustrated in the story of Elisha.
People tend to think that Elisha followed and served Elijah so as to receive the prophet’s mantle, but the Bible tells us that God spoke to Elijah and said, “anoint Elisha… to succeed you as prophet.” (1 Kings 19:16) So Elisha was already chosen. He was given the call, and both the ministry and grace was already available. He didn’t have to pursue Elijah to obtain it as he was already offered it up front.
But something in Elisha’s heart knew to pursue the older man. He followed Elijah and became his servant. From that time he cooked his food, carried his water, and washed his hands. He waited upon him and served him.
On the day Elijah was to leave, he tried to leave Elisha behind, saying, “Stay here, the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” (2 Kings 2:2) But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they walked on together. This happened three times with the same reply from Elisha each time.
This was a test of Elisha’s heart. And such tests come to all of us. Tests usually look innocuous, and they have to be for them to be real tests of the heart. Ponder these things carefully, for there is divine mystery here. And take warning also! Each of us is meant to be about the business of pursuing – of seeking the greater grace of God.
It is in this pursuing and seeking from the heart that lies the key to the double portion.
In the story of the taking away of Elijah, as he was leaving Elisha cried out, “My Father! My Father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” This was a deeply emotional experience for Elisha. As he said this he tore his clothes and his heart was rent too. Elisha was not someone waiting for Elijah to go, so he could get the inheritance (like some sons) but rather was a son who loved his father so much, that his father’s leaving was a sad time.
Elisha had a desire to be with his spiritual father, and it is this desire which caused him to pursue him. Spiritual sons must cultivate the longing to be with their fathers, and out of this kind of heart comes true inheritance and the double portion.
How to pursue a spiritual father, is a question answered in the heart. It requires resolve to do something, and take responsibility. It requires depth of feeling, the right heart. It requires “seeing our fathers” (like Elisha did when Elijah was taken) which means knowing them and recognising the grace they have. It requires being willing to put them first. All of these factors are part of pursuing a spiritual father, and out of this pursuit comes a double portion. However, seeking the double portion is not the objective for that leaves the son empty-handed. But seeking to serve, love and know, brings the blessing.